This comes after the experts, who include the special rapporteur on torture and other cruel, inhuman treatment or punishment, Nils Melzer and special rapporteur on the promotion and protection of the right to freedom of opinion and expression Clement Nyaletsossi Voule, who visited Zimbabwe in September last year, accused the government of targeting activists.
However, Information ministry permanent secretary Nick Mangwana, yesterday said the UN officials were attending to the Zimbabwean situation with pre-emptive conclusions.
“We are observing human rights and investigating any case of disappearances including staged ones. We have never stopped anyone from coming to observe anything in this country since the inception of the new dispensation. But I guess they have already arrived at their pre-emptive conclusions so they will have to overcome a lot of confirmation bias challenges,” Mangwana said.
The UN sentiments come after three MDC youth leaders, Joanna Mamombe, Cecilia Chimbiri and Netsai Marova were allegedly abducted and tortured by State security agents after having participated in a flash demonstration in Harare recently despite the obtaining national lockdown introduced to mitigate the spread of the coronavirus.
It also comes as Home Affairs minister Kazembe Kazembe recently dismissed the claims that the three youth leaders were abducted, saying that preliminary investigations by the police show that the alleged abduction and torture was stage-managed.
The UN experts expressed grave alarm over concerns that the MDC women’s case was not an isolated instance, highlighting that in 2019 alone, 49 cases of abductions and torture were reported in Zimbabwe, without investigations leading to perpetrators being held to account.
“Enforced disappearances of women often involve sexual violence and even forced impregnation, with enormous harm inflicted not only on their physical health and integrity, but also in terms of the resulting psychological damage, social stigma and disruption of family structures.
“Under the absolute and non-derogable prohibition of torture and ill-treatment, which includes enforced disappearance and violence against women, Zimbabwe must take all measures in its power to prevent such abuse, to investigate suspected violations, and to bring any perpetrators to justice,” the experts said.
They also urged the government to allow official visits of UN human rights experts with a view to assessing the human rights situation in the country.